In New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards’s latest thrilling ride, HUSH, a billionaire–who also happens to be the only son of a convicted white-collar crime felon–is found dead in his sprawling mansion. It looks like suicide… but could there be foul play at hand? Hush goes on sale December 30th from Gallery Books!
The Houston mansion was huge. Dark. Deserted.
Except for the corpse hanging in the living room.
Or whatever the hell rich people called the big, fancy room where nobody ever actually lived. Approximately the size of a football field with the white marble floors and the giant crystal chandeliers dangling overhead. This one, just like the rest of the house, was empty, its furnishings and other accoutrements in storage somewhere waiting for the government to auction them off.
“You should’ve talked when you had the chance, Jeffy-boy,” Finn Bradley said to the corpse as he grimly surveyed it. His voice was soft, but the words seemed to echo off the pale marble walls—hell, for all he knew the ceiling was marble. It soared thirty feet above his head, which made it kind of hard to tell.
The electricity had been cut off, so pale moonlight pouring in through the windows was all he had to go by, but he was confident that the death looked like a suicide.
Except that Finn knew it wasn’t.
Jeff Cowan, the twenty-nine-year-old son of disgraced financier George Cowan, who had made off with billions of investor dollars in one of the biggest financial frauds in history, had just become one more piece of collateral damage in the war to recover the missing money. Jeff was slight—okay, so maybe nearly everybody seemed slight when compared to Finn’s own six-three, 220-pound self—blond, and classically handsome. He’d had the most expensive of educations. The most expensive of everythings. His parents had doted on him. He had a host of rich-scion–type friends. Yet here he was, his bare feet dangling at approximately Finn’s eye level, wearing a pair of gym shorts and a T‑shirt, his face contorted in death, the smell of ammonia from where he had pissed himself stinking up the air around him. To all outward appearances, he had wrapped an electrical cord around his neck, attached one end to the wrought iron railing of the second-floor gallery looking down on the room, and leaped over, thus breaking his own damned neck.
Finding a motive was easy: the shame of his father’s crime, the unaccustomed poverty into which Jeff had been plunged, the relentless investigations as every law enforcement agency under the sun tried to ferret out who else had been involved in the fraud and what had happened to the money, had proved to be too much for the pampered darling of one of Houston’s wealthiest families. The ME could bring in a suicide verdict and nobody would question it.
Only a select few would know the verdict was bullshit.
Finn wrapped a hand around Cowan’s wrist. He’d seen enough death to know what it looked like, so he didn’t bother to check for a pulse. What he was checking for was body temperature.
Cowan was still warm. No sign of rigor mortis. No sign of blood pooling in the extremities. The smell of urine was still strong.
He’d been dead under an hour. Maybe way under an hour. As in he could have been killed in the last fifteen minutes or so.
It was possible that whoever had killed him was still around. Finn tightened his grip on his gun as he scanned the room, paying particular attention to the nearly impenetrable darkness shrouding the overhead gallery. He didn’t get the feeling that anyone was up there, but—
“You find Cowan?” inquired the voice in his head. At least, that was how Finn thought of his unwanted partner, David Baxter. The earwig was almost as bad as having Baxter in there with him. Not quite, though. Bax tended to lose his cool when things didn’t go according to plan. If he’d been standing there beside Finn at that moment instead of waiting in a parked car across the street from the ornate iron gates that were closed and padlocked by order of the U.S. government, Bax would be shitting bricks.
“Yep,” Finn replied, then added, “he’s dead.”
The shit bricks started to drop, as Finn had known they would. Bax’s voice went shrill.
“Are you serious?” He didn’t wait for Finn’s confirmation, because he knew Finn wasn’t a joking-around kind of guy. “Goddamn it! You weren’t supposed to kill him!”
Before Finn could reply, the distant, barely audible click of a door being unlocked had him pivoting in the direction from which it had come. There was no mistaking the subsequent sounds: somebody was coming in the front door.
His eyes narrowed. His muscles tensed.
“Somebody’s here,” he growled at Bax, who was supposed to be keeping watch. “Do your fucking job.”
“What?” Bax sputtered. “Me? Me do my job? You fucking do yours! You said you thought he was in the house. When we got here, and you went in, you said you wanted to talk to him. You didn’t say anything about killing—”
That was all Finn heard, because as he retreated into the shadows at the far side of the room he savagely pulled the damned annoying piece of plastic out of his ear and shoved it into his pocket.